Stars in their eyes but Steelers hit back to win

Dan Bakala thwarts Sheffield Steelers
Dan Bakala thwarts Sheffield Steelers

Steelers slammed the brakes on top of the league Dundee Stars with a hard-fought victory last night.

In doing so, they evened things up: out of four Elite games they have won two and lost two.

Last night against a stellar goalie, they deserved the win.

Goals from Jeff Legue and Stefan Meyer did the damage against the UK’s form team.

Dundee, who sit top of the Elite League by four points, have played six more games in the competition than Sheffield. They are also looking over their shoulder at Doug Christiansen’s old team Belfast Giants, the second place team who Sheffield visit on Saturday.

Stars were fortunate they didn’t go behind after just 47 seconds, when the unmarked Steve Goertzen fanned on a shot in the slot. The visitors were equally wasteful with John Dolan squandering a chance.

But then Steelers embarked on a dominating spell, thwarted mainly by the obstinate goaltending of highly prized goalie Dan Bakala, who started the evening with a 94.7 per cent save ratio and two shut-outs to his credit .

Bakala stopped Steelers top points scorer Meyer, Rob Dowd and Goertzen, twice, earning a slice of luck when his post stopped an Ilpo Samivirta effort.

Steelers goalie Frank Doyle and Chad Langlais surrendered possession cheaply on the odd occasion. They were lucky too, that league top scorer Nico Sacchetti stroked a glorious chance, created by Brock McPherson, wide.

Dundee had to dig deep as Sheffield powered in shot after shot, during a dominating second period.

Steelers, who seemed to be more powerful in the one-on-ones, needed to get more traffic in front of net to obscure Bakala’s vision; the 25-year-old Canadian goalie seemed to be effortlessly gobbling up every shot. He and Rory Rawlyk were specialising in frustrating the home side. But after 16 minutes of non-stop frustrated pressure, Steelers were caught cold.

Stars emerged from their defensive shell to attempt a speculative shot from the right point. It was low and hard from Scottish d-man Sam McCluskey, but it really shouldn’t have got past Doyle’s left foot. The goalie will want that one back.

As last weekend, Sheffield were now having to do a salvage job in the third period.

When a fifth Power Play came and went without success nerves in the crowd at iceSheffield seemed to getting more frayed. But when the sixth arrived, Legue settled them, scoring a similar effort to last Saturday: firing low from centre blue line on 49 minutes.

A minute later Goertzen picked a pocket on centre ice and set up Meyer to rifle home for 2-1.

But Dundee felt they were robbed when Sacchetti had a goal disallowed at 56:35, a furious Jeff Hutchins being called for cross-checking in the run-up to the strike.

Stars pulled their man of the match goalie off and made a last desperate bid for a point, Tim Spencer throwing himself on the puck to stop a shot on his net.

Not many goals but a great evening of entertainment.